Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Harry Potter Mania

As a publishing phenomenon, I find the extraordinary success of the Harry Potter series of books (and movies) pretty interesting. As an avid devourer of fiction, I was unable to resist reading the first book to see what all the fuss was about. I found it to be a fairly enjoyable read, but by no means life altering. If I had read it when I was 10 years old, perhaps I would have been fully caught up in the Elvis/Beatles/Menudo-like mania (sorry, I simply could not resist a Menudo reference). But as an adult, and an author, it is beyond my comprehension why these books have become quite as popular as they have. I found nothing between the covers of the first one to be especially unique or ground breaking. To me it simply seemed to be engaging young adult fantasy fiction, well enough written to find a wide audience for sure, but not to inspire a literary revolution. If a single kid picks up a book to read that he would not otherwise have done because the Harry Potter titles make reading "cool", then it is a revolution that I wholeheartedly endorse even if I can't quite understand it. Yet as a writer who also works 9-5 in publishing and tries to keep abreast of what's going on in the industry, I do find it baffling that while J.K. Rowling makes an obscene amount of money due to one of the greatest jobs of marketing I've ever witnessed, there is a substantial amount of quality literature being written that cannot find homes at mainstream publishers or an audience of significant size. This I find to be a shame, not that anyone in particular is necessarily to blame for it. We simply happen to live in a world that celebrates mass appeal mediocrity over thought provoking brilliance. The phenomenon of Harry Potter makes about as much sense as people refusing to get bored of American Idol or young girls being allowed to wear pajama pants to school. That said, here's a link to claims of alleged revelations of the most dramatic happenings in the final Harry Potter installment by somebody who supposedly broke into the publisher's computer system and gained prohibited access to an electronic copy of the book. This may be the truth or it may be a hoax. The mystery will be solved soon enough. For those whose curiousity gets the better of them every time, here you go...


Link to article about multiple people claiming to offer legitimate Potter finale spoilers - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19816389/?GT1=10150


  1. The only reason it's such a big deal is because it convinced an almost illiterate generation excited about reading. Everyone picked it up because the written word had, for so long, been considered dead and parents were happy to find a way to convince children to pick up a book.

  2. I am in awe of JK Rowling's success as an author. The woman is a billionaire. In every art form there are those who are exceedingly talent who never seem to quite make it, and those with limited talented that become obscenely famous and wealthy (think Paris or Britney).

    I think that JK Rowling is a very good author, that has enjoyed some great breaks, had the right formula at the right time, and was privileged to have the marketing machine to augment her success.

    I only hope that I am at the front of the line the next time this unbeatable combination is handed out. :-)